Spokane Valley residents propose lessening density per acre for duplex, town house and cottage projects

January 17, 2019

A group of Spokane Valley residents are working to modify city regulations for duplexes, town houses and cottage developments through a proposed change to city code.

Spokane Valley resident Pete Miller filed a city code amendment that would reduce the number of duplexes to one per acre, remove three or more attached town houses as a permitted use and prohibit single owners of large cottage developments in single family residential, or R-3, zoning, which covers a vast majority of the city.

The amendment has received support from more than 14 residents concerned that the continued increase in duplex development is changing the character of their neighborhood and jeopardizing property values.

Miller said the intention of the amendment is to limit developers from building large duplex, town house or cottage projects and then sell them to outside investors that could turn them into rental properties.

“What’s happening is developers are coming in, picking up larger pieces of ground and building entire duplex communities for rent within the R-3 zones,” she said. “Right now in Greenacres, we are running 88 percent duplex development as opposed to single family homes.”

Cottages and duplexes are allowed in the single family, multifamily, mixed use and corridor mixed use zones, according to the city.

City code permits six single family homes or three duplexes per acre in R-3 zoning.

Miller said the current city code deprives homeowners – who have invested and cared for their homes over many years – their right to peaceful and quiet enjoyment.

“The facts are when you have money invested in your home, no matter where you are at in the R-3 zone, a duplex development can come in with all rentals owned by an out-of-state developer and it’s going to effect property values,” she said.

Spokane Valley City Council members discussed duplex development regulations at a meeting in September, but didn’t take action because they were waiting until Spokane County finalizes its comprehensive plan update, which proposes a density increase from 10 units per acre for duplexes in low density residential zones.

In 2018, Spokane Valley issued 28 building permits for duplexes, while the city of Spokane issued 23 permits. Two duplex permits were issued in Spokane County.

That same year, Spokane Valley issued 35 permits for single family homes – a decrease of 94 permits from a year prior, according to city documents.

The city’s planning commission is holding a public hearing on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. to discuss the proposed duplex amendments.